Gaming Live Streaming Activity Balloons Amid Pandemic

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Game live streaming activity has ballooned during the pandemic: on average, weekly viewers of live streams have increased by 70 percent year over year and watch time has increased by 35 percent year over year. That’s according to a report from Torque Esports, “Stream Hatchet Q1,” which explores COVID’s impact on streaming audiences including what gaming entertainment people are watching and how.

Gaming remains one of the world’s biggest entertainment platforms, with 4.9 billion hours of live-streamed content watched during Q1 2020, a 35 percent increase compared to 2019, according to the report.

As the coronavirus lockdown continues, the average viewers watching video game live streams have increased more than 100 percent in April.

Twitch still holds a majority of gaming platform market share; 65 percent of all gaming content is watched on Twitch, down from 76 percent in Q1 2019. This year’s viewers have watched over 15 percent more hours on Twitch.

YouTube Gaming has seen steady year over year growth, seizing 22 percent of the live stream market in Q1, up two percent year over year. Viewers watched 51 percent more gaming live streams on YouTube Gaming year over year.

Facebook has displayed the fastest growth, taking 11 percent of the gaming platform market share in Q1, up from no share in Q1 2019. Viewers watched a whopping 900 percent more gaming live streams on Facebook in Q1 2020.

In April, Facebook announced the early launch of its dedicated Android gaming app called Facebook Gaming, which features a “Go Live” feature that enables users to share gaming streams directly to their Facebook page. Facebook reportedly has 700 million monthly users engaging with gaming content.

Mixer’s numbers, however, have been dwindling, even despite Twitch mega-streamer Ninja joining the platform in October 2019. Mixer viewers watched eight percent less gaming streams in Q1.

In the first week of April, Riot Games released the closed beta of Valorant. Breaking live streaming records, the game amassed more than 323 million hours watched during its first four weeks of video game streaming—twice as many as Apex Legends, the second-largest launch in video game streaming. In its second week of streaming alone, Valorant generated 131 million hours watched, one million more hours watched than all the other top five games combined in their second week.

Esports racing content has also seen a massive spike in popularity during COVID, growing by nearly 1,000 percent in Q1. Audiences of racing games like iRacing and Formula 1 have increased from 700,000 to over 6.8 million in April year over year.“Do we expect some of these numbers to level off in the long run? Yes, but the interesting thing is that virtual sports content will be something that leagues will continue to investigate . . . We know this by the level of inquiry we’re receiving from brands, companies, publishers, and leagues,” said Stream Hatchet co-founder and CEO, Eduard Montserrat.

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